Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooting: Don’t Say ‘Gun Control’

Shortly after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last week, Florida Governor Rick Scott responded to challenges concerning how he planned to move forward with gun control. The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas was the 18th school shooting since the start of 2018.

“We have to look at these things and say to ourselves, our primary goal is school safety. I don’t want to tramp on anyone’s constitutional rights, but we’ve got to focus on keeping these kids safe.”

When asked directly if his plans included making gun control laws stricter, Scott responded, “…We’re going to figure out how, moving forward, this never happens again. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure this never happens again.”

Scott said that the Florida State legislature assured him that they’d be very supportive of working through what needs to be done. “I’ve asked for funding for school safety…We’re going to figure this out.” But Scott repeatedly avoided directly addressing the issue of making gun laws stricter.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked, “Are you ready to commit your political team to work to tighten gun restrictions in the state of Florida?”

“Everything’s on the table…I’m going to do everything I can to keep these kids safe,” responded Scott.

Earlier this week, 100 students, survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, traveled seven hours to Tallahassee to watch the Florida House of Representatives vote on a motion for debate on a gun control bill. The bill, introduced by Democratic State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, would ban the sale of assault weapons and large capacity magazines. It would have classified the AR-15 as an assault weapon, and banned it.

Governor Scott’s earlier assurance that he and lawmakers would “do whatever they could” to ensure that a mass shooting never happens again in Florida schools clearly did not mean that “doing whatever they could” would include examining tighter gun control measures. The Florida House of Representatives voted down the motion for debate, 71-36.

Apparently, a greater risk to the public is pornography. During the same session, the Florida House of Representatives passed a bill that declared pornography a public health risk.

“Unfortunately, just five days after 17 people were gunned down at a Florida school, the Florida House just passed a bill that declares pornography a public health risk,” said Congressman Smith. “Basically, what they have just determined is that these are the Republican priorities in 2018. Wasting our time with debate and legislation that declares porn a health threat. Meanwhile, we can’t even get a single debate, vote, or hearing on anything related to assault weapons.”

When asked why the House voted down even considering such a bill, Republican State Representative Matt Caldwell replied, “The worst outcome in my mind is that we put forth some proposal, we ban something just at a whim, without really going through the time or the process. And it (restricting sale of assault weapons) doesn’t make any difference. So next time you have a school shooting, then what do you say?

There is no record of anyone walking into a building and using pornography to take lives in the span of three minutes, as has happened with an AR-15 assault rifle. Yet, Republicans, at least in Florida, appear to see porn as a greater health risk than a semiautomatic weapon in the hands of a disturbed individual. If this is the prevalent mentality, and if we continue to avoid the issue of tighter gun control, the odds are that what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, will happen again somewhere.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott Challenged on Gun Laws | [2018-02-15]

Lawmakers Pass on Gun Debate, Vote to Say Porn is Dangerous | CNN [2018-02-21]

Sen. Nelson: What Will it Take to Stop School Shootings? | Fox News [2018-02-14]

Failed Gun Policy: Nikolaus Cruz Used a Legally Owned Gun

Nikolaus Cruz, the 19-year-old shooter who is accused of killing 17 people during a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, legally owned his AR-15 assault rifle. He did not have a criminal record, so he easily cleared the background check. And though Nikolaus Cruz’ public defenders say that he suffers from mental illness, that didn’t prevent him from legally buying a gun.

Current Federal law allows people who are 18 and over to purchase guns, including many types of assault weapons. A 19-year-old is not allowed to buy a beer, but is permitted to buy an assault weapon. We can prevent kids like Nikolaus Cruz from legally loading up on alcohol, but we can’t prevent them from legally stocking up on weapons and ammunition.

Though the United States has only 5 percent of the world’s population, it ranks first in the number of firearms per capita. And according to the Swiss-based Small Arms Survey, the U.S. “has about 35-50 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns.” The United States also wins the prize for having the highest rate of homicide by firearms among the most developed nations.

“This happens nowhere else other than the United States of America…The scourge of school shooting after school shooting,” Said Senator Chris Murphy, speaking on the Senate Floor following the attack by Nikolaus Cruz.

“It only happens here not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction. We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else. As a parent, it scares me to death that this body doesn’t take seriously the safety of my children….”

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, “As of 2017, there were no federal laws banning semiautomatic assault weapons, military-style .50 caliber rifles, handguns, or large-capacity magazines. There was a federal prohibition on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines between 1994 and 2004, but Congress allowed these restrictions to expire.”

This is the 18th shooting on a school property since the beginning of 2018. Eight of these shootings resulted in death or injuries. Clearly, the current Federal gun policies have failed our schools – and all of us. Will Congress finally recognize that they need to address current gun laws?

Probably not, as we consider that more than a few GOP senators have accepted substantial funds from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other gun rights groups. According to the New York Daily News, for example, Senator Marco Rubio has received $3,303,355 from the NRA and other gun rights groups over the course of his political career. Senator Rob Portman has received $3,061,941 from the NRA during his political career.

Gun control doesn’t mean “taking away all guns.” It means enacting measures that more effectively keep firearms out of the hands of people like Nikolaus Cruz – those who are most likely to use them to kill or hurt themselves or others. But why does any private citizen need to be able to purchase an AR-15 assault rifle? And why is a kid like Niklaus Cruz, who isn’t old enough to legally buy a beer, old enough to legally buy a semiautomatic weapon?

Top U.S. and World Headlines |  Democracy Now! [2018-02-15]

Multiple Fatalities after Shooter Attacks Florida School |  Fox News [2018-02-14]